EPA backed off probe of poisoned wells in Texas after poisoner protested

EPA backed off Weatherford water contamination probe after gas drilling company protested
BY RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI
The Associated Press
Published: 16 January 2013 06:59 AM

WEATHERFORD — When a man in a Fort Worth suburb reported his family’s drinking water had begun “bubbling” like champagne, the federal government sounded an alarm: An oil company may have tainted their wells while drilling for natural gas.

At first, the Environmental Protection Agency believed the situation was so serious that it issued a rare emergency order in late 2010 that said at least two homeowners were in immediate danger from a well saturated with flammable methane. More than a year later, the agency rescinded its mandate and refused to explain why.

Now a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with company representatives show that the EPA had scientific evidence against the driller, Range Resources, but changed course after the company threatened not to cooperate with a national study into a common form of drilling called hydraulic fracturing. Regulators set aside an analysis that concluded the drilling could have been to blame for the contamination.

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